Construction is underway on the campus of Bluefield College as the school begins another campus improvement project – a $2.7 million third-floor addition to its Science Center.
The Science Center addition, which began immediately after the end of the spring 2018 semester and will continue through the end of the year, is in response to the college’s growing number of academic offerings in health sciences.
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“Bluefield College is working to answer the workforce demands of more STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math and health) degrees,” said BC’s Ruth Blankenship, vice president for finance, administration and advancement. “We launched a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in 2012 and have been exploring other STEM-H programs since. But before we can offer any other new programs, we need to expand our current educational facilities.”
Built in 1992, BC’s two-story Science Center houses all of the college’s STEM-H programs, including its traditional offerings in biology, chemistry, forensic science, information technology, math, and exercise and sports science, which enrolls more students than any other major on campus. Since the addition of the bachelor’s degree in nursing six years ago, which currently has 60 students enrolled, the college has added a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) and a family nurse practitioner program. And as a result of the success of these new programs, BC is exploring yet another new degree in nutrition and health sciences.
“The college is experiencing success and momentum in health-related science programs like never before,” said Blankenship. “In order for that to continue, we need more space. Each of these new programs requires additional classrooms, labs and simulation facilities. We cannot provide that without the addition of a third floor to the Science Center.”
Already the largest academic building on campus, the Science Center was originally designed by architect Bill Huber of Marion, Virginia, and erected by Swope Construction of Bluefield, West Virginia, with expansion in mind and a structure that readily allows a third-floor addition. The new space will contain a nursing simulation facility, two multi-functional classrooms, an anatomy lab, offices for faculty and staff in the School of Nursing, and a lecture hall with a seating capacity of approximately 100 that can be divided into two smaller lecture facilities.
“We’re excited about Swope returning to complete this addition, since they were the contractor who originally built the Science Center to accommodate a third floor,” said Blankenship. “They’re not only local, but they’re using local sub-contractors on the project, which is providing a significant economic impact on the community.”
Blankenship added that the $2.7 million campus improvement project would not be possible without the generosity of donors, who to date have provided more than half of the funds needed for construction. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, she said, has been the most generous contributor to date, providing a combination of grants and resources from its revolving loan fund. Other foundations providing significant funding include the Skewes Family Foundation and a third unnamed regional foundation.
“The college community is extremely grateful for the generous support given toward this important endeavor,” said BC president Dr. David Olive. “Key alumni and friends, along with mission-committed foundations and the Virginia Tobacco Commission, have made this dream become reality. We could not grow our health science programs and expand our academic facilities without these visionaries buying into and helping write the future story of Bluefield College.”
Other leadership gifts and commitments have come from alumna Barbara Asbury Custalow (’61), the widow of alumnus and former Bluefield College trustee Dr. Linwood Custalow (’58), and the Custalow family, as well as from alumnus and trustee emeritus Doug Hawks (’57) and his wife, Janice, an honorary alumna. In addition, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation is the most recent benefactor to join the cause, but with a challenge to other potential BC donors.
“The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation is providing a 1:1 challenge grant for the Science Center project,” said Blankenship. “They will grant $100,000, if we raise another $100,000. So, we are looking for donors to make this gift a reality. These gifts can be offered in the form of a direct donation now or in the form of a multi-year pledge.”
Blankenship added that naming opportunities are also available with the Science Center expansion, ranging from the naming of offices and classrooms to labs and lecture halls. In fact, for those interested in leaving a more prominent legacy on the BC campus, naming opportunities are available for the entire third floor and even the whole building.
“It would be great for the Science Center to carry an official name of a family from this area or a graduate of Bluefield College,” said Blankenship.
The Science Center expansion will be the college’s fourth major campus improvement project in the last nine years. The school completed quarter-million-dollar renovations to Harman Chapel in 2016, the construction of a $4.5 million Bluestone Commons apartment complex in 2014, and the development of a $4.3 million East River residence hall in 2009. For more information about naming opportunities for the Science Center or to contribute to the Parsons Foundation challenge, contact Blankenship by phone at 276-326-4556 or by email at [email protected]